Dubai bans British author from book fair

<p>A British author has been banned from the Dubai book festival because one of the characters inher latest novel is gay.</p><p>The <em>Times</em> reports that Geraldine Bedell, whose novel<em> The Gulf Between Us </em>(Penguin) is set in the Middle East, was initially welcomed to the event. However, organisers withdrew the book after discovering the novel featured a homosexual sheikh who had an English boyfriend and was also set in the backdrop to the Iraq war.</p><p>The director of the festival, Isobel Abulhoul, wrote to Bedell and told her: &quot;I do not want our festival remembered for the launch of a controversial book. If we launched the book and a journalist happened to read it, then you could imagine the political fallout that would follow. This could be a minefield.&quot;</p><p>Bedell, who lived in the Middle East, described the sheikh as only a minor character in her book. She said: &quot;You can&#39;t ban books and expect your literary festival to be taken seriously.&quot;</p><p>The first International Festival of Literature in Dubai starts on 26th February and features authors including Kate Adie, Anthony Horowitz, Jamil Qureshi, Sir Ranulph Fiennes.</p><p>It describes itself as: &quot;The first true literary Festival in the Middle East celebrating the world of books in all its infinite variety.&quot;</p>